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Unlike Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj to follow the SOP issued by the Health Department

A week before Durga Puja, the people of Barak Valley are confused at best and misguided at worse. On October 13, the Health Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma called for a press conference and asked the people of the State to follow the guidelines issued by the Department of Health, Government of Assam.

24 hours later, the Cachar DC, Keerthi Jalli issued another SOP and she said the administration has combined the SOPs issued by the chief secretary on September 16 and the Department of Health on October 13. The combined SOP ended up contradicting some guidelines mentioned in the Department of Health’s SOP.

The main cause of concern in the new SOP is that it bans temporary pandals. However, the Department of Health’s SOP guides Puja Committees to construct pandals that are open from all sides. In fact, the Department of Health prohibits Durga Puja in a closed enclosure. Contrary to that, the Cachar DC ordered that Puja will be allowed only inside concrete pandals/sthapit mandap. Now, unless the administration is driving bulldozers and breaking walls, how to keep all sides open of a Concrete Mandap is something that remains a mystery.

Naturally, Cachar DC’s SOP has attracted immense criticism. When the Department of Health did not find it important to combine the two SOPs, why did the Cachar DC do so is a question that is doing rounds in Dispur too.

The deputy commissioners of Hailakandi and Karimganj, meanwhile, have decided their Puja protocols. Both the administration said, they will go with the SOP issued by the Health Department.

“We have just held a meeting in Hailakandi and we have decided that we will follow the SOP issued by the Department of Health, Government of Assam. There is no reason why we must come up with one more SOP,” said, Megh Nidhi Dahal, deputy commissioner of Hailakandi.

The Karimganj District Administration has posted the SOP issued by the Health Department on its official Facebook page. Anbamuthan MP, deputy commissioner of Karimganj confirmed that he is not making any changes to the SOP. “We will follow the one shared by the Department of Health,” he said.

Sources in the Cachar District Administration have informed us that the deputy commissioner might rethink the newly issued SOP and follow the SOP shared by the Department of Health. By doing so, she will allow Puja inside temporary pandals. Also, this will be the third time she will change her decision.

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